The Australian recently reported1 that the forest industry and CFMEU have called for fuel loads in national parks to be aggressively managed through hazard reduction burning and selective logging, to avoid a repeat of the recent bushfire crisis.
The Colong Foundation for Wilderness2 notes that the science is clear that native forest logging is a major threat to our dwindling wildlife and makes landscapes more fire prone.
The SMH3 has reported that calls by the forestry industry for hazard reduction in native forests are misleading as ecology and fire experts state that the evidence shows that thinning trees makes forests more fire prone.
The Colong Foundation states that the Forestry Industry’s Forestry Management Zone and Eden wood-chip mill were burnt due to poor fire management practices. The Colong Foundation believes that consequently the forestry industry is now seeking to log national parks which hold some of the only unburnt areas.
The Australian reports that Australian National University landscape ecologist Professor David Lindenmayer said selective logging of wet forests elevates fire risk for up to 40 years and that thinning the forest opens the canopy and more light and litter on the floor dries out the forest.”
These views4 are shared by Professor James Watson, director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the University of Queensland, who stated that we need to re-evaluate how we think about forestry and logging in Australia. “The science is pretty clear. Many of these fires got out of control in logged areas and logging is the very reason why many species are already endangered. If we want to maintain threatened species in these landscapes, we’ve got to realise that forestry does not work to save them.”
Writing for the ABC5, Professor Lindenmayer has expressed concerns that just as forests are starting to recover from fires they are now threatened by calls for post-fire logging. The Australian Forest Products Association has called for a “massive bushfire recovery harvesting operation” to recover burnt trees for timber.
Professor Lindenmayer writes “multiple independent, peer reviewed studies show logging forests after bushfires increases future fire risk and can render the forest uninhabitable for wildlife for decades or even centuries”.
1 The Australian, 8 January 2020, “Forestry industry, CFMEU united on logging, burns to take fight to bushfires”
2 Colong Foundation for Wilderness Media Release 8 January 2020, “Wildlife needs protection, not misinformation campaign by forestry industry”.
3 Sydney Morning Herald, 9 January 2020, “Scientists warn forest industry plan could increase fire risk” https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/scientists-warn-forest-industry-plan-could-increase-fire-risk-20200109-p53q4u.html
4 ABC News 19 January 2020, “Inside the race to protect 250 threatened species hit by bushfire” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-19/inside-the-race-to-protect-threatened-species/11877990
5 ABC News 30 January 2020, “Post-bushfire logging makes a bad situation even worse, but the industry is ignoring the science” by David Lindenmayer https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-29/logging-bushfire-affected-areas-australia-increases-fire-risk/11903662?pfmredir=sm&fbclid=IwAR0dilzC1UOUTMjg_OoejKaKGEK5aY2dMqQWhR5hIxtGU36QeS24eymb26g